It is always interesting to go into opposing rinks and talk to the various people you meet in the arena prior to the doors opening. Whether it be the security guard at the gate, the radio broadcasters from the other side, the off-ice officials…it doesn’t matter, it is normally an interesting conversation.
For the past two years, one of the comments that always seems to be made is, “Man, are you guys big!” And the Portland Winterhawks are big…and they play a physical style. But with that in mind…there is one statistic that sticks out…one that would probably surprise most people. The big, bad Hawks are tied for the fewest fighting majors in the WHL for the 2010-11 season.
Through 68 games, Portland has 55 fighting majors…tied with the Everett Silvertips for the fewest in the WHL (maybe even more surprisingly, Spokane leads the league with 101).
The small number is even more surprising when you realize that in the 68 games that Portland has played, 31 of those have been decided by three or more goals when it seems that what I like to affectionately call “gong shows” are more prevalent. There tend to be more line brawls or individual fights in lop-sided games and Portland, for the most part, has strayed away from that trend.
Tayler Jordan leads with 10 fighting majors, followed by Riley Boychuk, Joe Morrow, Taylor Peters and Brad Ross with 5 each, Brett Ponich with 4, Troy Rutkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon with 3, Oliver Gabriel, Seth Swenson and Jason Trott with 2 and a single fight for Taylor Aronson, Mac Carruth, Craig Cunningham, Liam Darragh, Matt Ius, Nino Niederreiter, Derrick Pouliot, Ty Rattie and William Wrenn.
Last year, Portland only had 64 fighting majors, so maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised by the low number.
The push for the #1 spot in the U.S. Division and the Western Conference continues tonight when the Hawks face the struggling Vancouver Giants. The Giants have lost six straight, having been outscored 32-8 during that stretch and they’ll be missing leading scorer Brendan Gallagher again tonight. Gallagher hasn’t played since being hurt after taking a hit from Brendan Leipsic in the Hawks meeting with Vancouver on March 5th.
It is the return of Spencer Bennett and Teal Burns to Portland for the first time since the trade in late December. Bennett is coming off a four-goal game in an 8-5 loss to Chilliwack on Saturday.
Mac Carruth should return to the line-up tonight but whether or not he starts will be determined prior to puck drop.
Game time is 7:00 with the pre-game show on Freedom 970 starting at 6:35 live from the Rose Garden.